B-168971, MARCH 10, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 571

B-168971: Mar 10, 1970

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AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IS ENTITLED TO FULL CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS THAT ARE WAIVED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE ACT. AS THE PAYMENTS ARE DEEMED VALID FOR ALL PURPOSES. A REFUND TO AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OVERPAYMENT WHICH HE HAD REPAID PRIOR TO WAIVER OF THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT BY AN AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL IS REGARDED AS A VALID PAYMENT THAT MAY NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF A RESPONSIBLE CERTIFYING OFFICER REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT HE MAY NOT REGARD THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT AS HAVING BEEN APPROPRIATELY WAIVED. YOUR LETTER READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS: AS AN EXAMPLE ATTACHED IS A COPY OF A WAIVER CLAIM THAT WAS DISALLOWED. REMOVE LIABILITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82C OF THE CERTIFYING OFFICER WHO IS VESTED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CERTIFYING THE REFUND PAYMENT.

B-168971, MARCH 10, 1970, 49 COMP. GEN. 571

ACCOUNTABLE OFFICERS -- ACCOUNTS -- CREDIT FOR WAIVED ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 90-616, AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER IS ENTITLED TO FULL CREDIT IN HIS ACCOUNTS FOR ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS THAT ARE WAIVED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE ACT, AS THE PAYMENTS ARE DEEMED VALID FOR ALL PURPOSES. THEREFORE, A REFUND TO AN EMPLOYEE OF THE OVERPAYMENT WHICH HE HAD REPAID PRIOR TO WAIVER OF THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT BY AN AUTHORIZED OFFICIAL IS REGARDED AS A VALID PAYMENT THAT MAY NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF A RESPONSIBLE CERTIFYING OFFICER REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT HE MAY NOT REGARD THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT AS HAVING BEEN APPROPRIATELY WAIVED.

TO D. E. CAPEN, POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT, MARCH 10, 1970:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 29, 1970, 9132: DEC:C, CONCERNING A CERTIFYING OFFICER'S LIABILITY IN A CASE WHERE HE CERTIFIES A REFUND FOLLOWING THE APPROVAL OF A PUBLIC LAW 90-616 WAIVER CLAIM AT THE AGENCY LEVEL. YOUR LETTER READS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

AS AN EXAMPLE ATTACHED IS A COPY OF A WAIVER CLAIM THAT WAS DISALLOWED, PROTESTED BY THE CLAIMANT, AND THEN ALLOWED AT A HIGHER LEVEL OF AUTHORITY WITHIN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. A REFUND OF $92.50 WOULD THEREFORE BE DUE THE DEBTOR.

DOES APPROVAL AT THE HIGHER LEVEL OF AUTHORITY, WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT, REMOVE LIABILITY UNDER 31 U.S.C. 82C OF THE CERTIFYING OFFICER WHO IS VESTED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CERTIFYING THE REFUND PAYMENT, PARTICULARLY IF HE IS OF THE OPINION THAT THE CLAIM SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED.

5 U.S.C. 5584(C), (D) AND (E), AS ADDED BY PUBLIC LAW 90-616, READ AS FOLLOWS:

(C) A PERSON WHO HAS REPAID TO THE UNITED STATES ALL OR PART OF THE AMOUNT OF A CLAIM, WITH RESPECT TO WHICH A WAIVER IS GRANTED UNDER THIS SECTION, IS ENTITLED, TO THE EXTENT OF THE WAIVER, TO REFUND, BY THE EMPLOYING AGENCY AT THE TIME OF THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT, OF THE AMOUNT REPAID TO THE UNITED STATES, IF HE APPLIES TO THAT EMPLOYING AGENCY FOR THAT REFUND WITHIN TWO YEARS FOLLOWING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE WAIVER. THE EMPLOYING AGENCY SHALL PAY THAT REFUND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION.

(D)IN THE AUDIT AND SETTLEMENT OF THE ACCOUNTS OF ANY ACCOUNTABLE OFFICIAL, FULL CREDIT SHALL BE GIVEN FOR ANY AMOUNTS WITH RESPECT TO WHICH COLLECTION BY THE UNITED STATES IS WAIVED UNDER THIS SECTION.

(E) AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT, THE COLLECTION OF WHICH IS WAIVED UNDER THIS SECTION, IS DEEMED A VALID PAYMENT FOR ALL PURPOSES.

UNDER THE CLEAR WORDING OF THE STATUTE FULL CREDIT SHALL BE GIVEN IN THE ACCOUNTS OF AN ACCOUNTABLE OFFICER FOR A PAYMENT WHICH IS WAIVED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE ACT AND AN ERRONEOUS PAYMENT SO WAIVED IS REGARDED AS VALID FOR ALL PURPOSES. MOREOVER, WHEN A REFUND IS MADE TO AN EMPLOYEE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTION (C) THAT PAYMENT, TOO, IS REGARDED AS A VALID PAYMENT AND ONE WHICH MAY NOT BE QUESTIONED IN THE ACCOUNTS OF THE RESPONSIBLE CERTIFYING OFFICER. THIS IS TRUE IN ANY CASE IN WHICH PAYMENT IS MADE PURSUANT TO A WAIVER GRANTED BY AN OFFICIAL IN WHOM WAIVER AUTHORITY HAD BEEN DULY DELEGATED REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT THE CERTIFYING OFFICER MAY HAVE REGARDED THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT AS NOT BEING APPROPRIATE FOR WAIVER.